republic (books 6 - 10)
retires under the shelter of a wall; and seeing the rest of man-
kind full of wickedness, he is content, if only he can live his
own life and be pure from evil or unrighteousness, and depart
in peace and good-will, with bright hopes.
Yes, he said, and he will have done a great work before he
A great work--yes; but not the greatest, unless he find a
State suitable to him; for in a State which is suitable to him,
he will have a larger growth and be the saviour of his country,
as well as of himself.
The causes why philosophy is in such an evil name have
now been sufficiently explained: the injustice of the charges
against her has been shown--is there anything more which you
wish to say?
Nothing more on that subject, he replied; but I should like
to know which of the governments now existing is in your
opinion the one adapted to her.
Not any of them, I said; and that is precisely the accusation
which I bring against them--not one of them is worthy of the
philosophic nature, and hence that nature is warped and es-
tranged; as the exotic seed which is sown in a foreign land
becomes denaturalized, and is wont to be overpowered and to
lose itself in the new soil, even so this growth of philosophy,
instead of persisting, degenerates and receives another charac-
ter. But if philosophy ever finds in the State that perfec-
tion which she herself is, then will be seen that she is in truth
divine, and that all other things, whether natures of men or
institutions, are but human; and now, I know that you are
going to ask, What that State is:
No, he said; there you are wrong, for I was going to ask
another question--whether it is the State of which we are the
founders and inventors, or some other?
Yes, I replied, ours in most respects; but you may remember
my saying before, that some living authority would always be
required in the State having the same idea of the constitution
which guided you when as legislator you were laying down the
That was said, he replied.
Yes, but not in a satisfactory manner; you frightened us by
interposing objections, which certainly showed that the dis-
cussion would be long and difficult; and what still remains is
the reverse of easy.
What is there remaining?
The question how the study of philosophy may be so ordered
as not to be the ruin of the State: All great attempts are at-
tended with risk; "hard is the good," as men say.
Still, he said, let the point be cleared up, and the inquiry
will then be complete.
I shall not be hindered, I said, by any want of will, but, if
at all, by a want of power: my zeal you may see for yourselves;
and please to remark in what I am about to say how boldly and